A/V Geek Skip
May 18, 2006 2:01pm
Want to upload a Feature Film?
I know that many of you want to contribute films to the Feature Film section of the Internet Archive. That's great, but before you do all the work of digitizing and uploading a film, you need to understand what is in public domain and what isn't. Please note that I am not an IP lawyer, so if you are thinking of using material in your own work, you may wish to pay a copyright researcher to clear the material before you use it. Here are some basic rules to follow regarding copyright. :
1) Is there a copyright notice visible in the film?
It is usually visible with the title or at the end of the film.
If the work was made in 1923 or earlier, it is public domain and can be uploaded.
NOTE! Restored versions of the film or new soundtracks for silent films can have more recent copyrights that are still valid - usually a copyright notice for a new soundtrack or restoration will appear in the film.
For works made from 1923 to 1949,
ask us before you upload. The copyright could have been renewed and there isn't a way online to check a film's copyright status
For works made from 1950 to 1963,
you can check the title at the Library of Congress Copyright Database for copyright renewals: http://www.copyright.gov/records/cohm.html
This will list copyright renewals for most films.
If the copyright notice is 1964 or later, the copyright is still valid and the film should not be uploaded
unless you are the copyright holder.
2) Is the copyright notice in the correct format?
It needs to state three things - the word 'copyright' or the copyright symbol or '(c)', the year and who owns the copyright? If it is missing one of those elements or if there is no notice, it could be public domain. If you aren't sure, please ask.
3) Is the film foreign (not from the U.S.)?
Foreign titles might not have a copyright notice, but still may be copyrighted in their country of origin. Traditionally the U.S. wouldn't recognize the copyright of a foreign film unless it was registered in the U.S. That has recently changed with the GATT treaty. Many foreign works had their copyrights restored. Please ask about these films before you upload.
I hope that helps a little.